How to teach your dog to stop barking

Barking is one of dogs' way of communication, but excessive barking is an issue many dog owners encounter. Here are the possible reasons why your dog feels the need to bark and how to teach them to stop.

What triggers excessive barking

There are many possible reasons but the most common are:

  • when there is someone at the door, entering your home or people walking by your house.
  • at cats or birds in the garden
  • when they are bored and want your attention
  • when they are on their own

How to get your dog to stop barking

If your dog is barking when someone is the door

Alarm barking happens when your dog wants to warn you about something, such as someone ringing the bell, a car pulling in the driveway, people walking near the house...

In those situations, you can teach them a "replacement behaviour" that will take their mind off the need to bark. For instance, when someone is at the door, make your dog fetch a toy or tell them to go to bed, so that they are no longer in the area.

If your dog barks at cats and birds in the garden

You can teach your pooch a recall that rewards them for turning their attention to you instead of the cats and birds. Make sure to reward your dog every time they decide to come to you, to let them know that it's the appropriate behaviour.

If your dog is barking at people walking past your home

This is a territorial barking behaviour which you can manage by not giving them access to the window sill where they can see outside. Distract them by putting their favourite toys in another part of your home.

You can also close the curtains and blinds or even put cling window film that makes windows more opaque.

If your dog barks when they're on their own

They might express their separation anxiety, especially if they are not used to being left alone. Check this blog post on how to get your dog used to being on their own.

If your dog barks to get your attention

Although your natural response might be to raise your voice to tell them off, it is actually encouraging them to carry on, as you are giving them the attention they wanted.

Instead, keep calm and wait for them to stop. If they carry on, calmly tell them to sit or go to bed. Once they calmed down, reward them with a treat and spend some time playing with them.

If you think your dog is asking for attention because they are bored, it might be helpful to increase their activity time (walks, garden playing...) and use of toys to keep them stimulated.

Remember, barking is a normal behaviour and it's only right to take action when it becomes excessive and disruptive. Training your dog is always the best way to teach them to control their barking. If you don't see any improvement, it might be helpful to get help from a behavioural specialist.